Michael: Hello and welcome to the love and compassion podcast with Giselle. We believe that love and compassion have the power to heal our lives in our world. Don’t forget to like it, subscribe for more amazing content. On today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about learning from our dogs, how to live a more fulfilling life.
Gissele: My guest today is Michael Overlea, who is a canine partnered men’s guide, author of the book, Let Your Dog Lead. He helps male dog owners who suck at relationships, become amazing at relationships. He provides one to one coaching individual in small group retreats.
With the dogs, of course, and he’s developing an app so that men can dip their toes in. Are you ready to become amazing? Please join me in welcoming Michael to the show. Hi, Michael.
Michael: Yay. Oh, I sound pretty good.
Gissele: You do. You sound fantastic. I was wondering if you could start by sharing [00:01:00] with our listeners what led you to do the work that you do today.
Michael: A lifetime of not paying attention followed by the death of my brother in 2017. What happened from that event was just, it was my awakening as a but I was plunged into deep, deep grief over the loss of him. He was, he was the one guy I could count on in my world, right? What happened was he died a few days later.
I had this experience where I was literally leveled and laid out and crying uncontrollably and feeling like I was being ripped apart. And as I came out of that that, that same, that same day. My dog crawled up on my chest and just started pumping me full of love and healing energy. And I was like, what the heck is going on?
So I started looking into this and then I [00:02:00] realized also, well, this is very important. I realized that I didn’t like who I was being in the world, but I wasn’t able to see that I wasn’t able to. Notice how I was showing up and now I could and I didn’t like it. I was like, whoa, we need to change this right away.
So that precipitated all of this and what that dog did for me. I never knew it was possible, so I started looking back at my other dogs and realize what they had done for me. My 1st dog kept me alive when I was 11
. I was suicidal after my dad left. And well, right. Yeah, but I just displaced all that. So all these things, all these dogs, all these lessons, like, oh, my gosh, people need to know about this.
I need to go help some people and so that they can, they can get out of this, this tough guy, macho destructive cycle.
Gissele: Thank you for sharing that. It’s so interesting as a dog owner myself, I have a Doberman Shepherd. It’s so interesting [00:03:00] how dogs offer us so much but very subtly without doing a lot.
You know, in the book you talk about how often in the world we’re doing, we’re doing, we’re doing without being. Dogs just kind of show up in the world as beings, right? And so what were some of the key lessons you learned from your dogs throughout your journey?
Michael: Oh, that I can slow down. I mean, that is so important.
And, you know, before we started recording today, you and I were having this conversation about why on earth do I get up at three 30 in the morning? That’s right. If you want to look at it from a financial perspective, I’m paying myself first, right? So I’m, I’m filling my cup so that I can go out through the rest of my day and give people what, what they might need.
Dogs are fantastic. They can get in this huge scuffle fight. And then minutes later, they’re just like, what? Oh, was there a problem? You know, we, we don’t do that. We create these [00:04:00] stories about the event or we bring in an old story about an event and now that guy’s a jerk for life. And it’s like, well, we’re, we’re all hurt people trying to trying to work our way through this world.
Their dogs are constantly showing us all these amazing things, how to decompress quickly or discharge, right? Shake it off. It doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem or the underlying issue, but you can let go of that charge right now so that you can come back to a place where you might be able to get into that a little more.
They’re so fast to experience joy. Yeah. Right. They don’t have to plan it. They don’t have to wait for a vacation or a trip or, Oh, I can’t wait to, you know, my life sucks, but I’m going on vacation, you know, there’s just none of that. And again, it’s, it’s this constant overthinking overanalyzing. We create a lot of our own misery and just their ability to be so present all the time.
I think is probably the biggest
Gissele: lesson. You said so many powerful [00:05:00] things. I want to start with the shake it off. Cause I actually, you know, I read in your book that you do Qigong and so do I. And one of the things that we learn in Qigong is the shake, right? You shake your whole body to release it.
And I noticed how often my dog does it. Like when he’s like having an issue or whatever, he just shake it off and then he’ll move on with his life. But as you say, we often hold on to these stories about Who we think we are and who other people are that actually lead to us continuing to suffer because we’re putting all of our energy and attention on our suffering or the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
And so I think that was really important. The other one was, is I was reading your book. I remembered about savoring, about savoring my life. Cause I thought about, okay, well, what does my dog do in the circumstance? he loves being outside, even though he’s like has allergies. My dog will actually just sometimes close his eyes and lift his [00:06:00] snout and just like breathe in and feel the air.
And I thought to myself, how often am I savoring my life? Like, how often am I really, really present? Like you said, instead of waiting for my vacation or wait, when I do this, then I’ll be happy. how have your dogs helped you savor or get more out of your everyday?
Michael: God, in probably a million ways that I don’t even remember. So, I have an example, my last dog Darby, and he’s since he’s left us. Right. And but he, he was the one, he was a catalyst for all of this. So Darby would just do these things to try and get my attention because he could feel that I was like, or caught up in something, or maybe I just needed to go outside.
So he would stand at the back door, the sliding door and, and look outside. He’d look back at me until I would get up and I’d go to let him out and he, [00:07:00] and he’d just stand there, right? I’d open the door and he’d, he’d look up at me and one day I finally got it. He, he knew I needed to get outside so we could go outside and we could, we could play or just stand.
And I live in a pretty windy area so we could, there were smells coming from all over the place and, and the breeze. And he would, as you say, he would just close his eyes and you just watch that nose work. And I’m like, what is he smelling? I can’t smell it, but it would, it would take me out of whatever I was in and I would just be so present and lost in the moment.
It would completely discharge whatever was going on.
Gissele: Thank you for sharing that. Cause I really appreciate that because that’s what I find with my dog. he is my Velcro dog. Like he is. It’s completely like always near me, always on top of me or, you know, sleeping around me.
And that’s one of the things I found since I started working from home, that whenever we go to let him out, he won’t go without me. Like he will [00:08:00] not do anything without me. And, but I just realized as you were talking that that’s what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to get me out there. Cause it’s true.
If I don’t go out there sometimes with him, it’s like, I don’t go out at all. I’ll just sit there, you know, working on my things. And. And I find that he kind of nudges me. And I think what this has helped me realize, and there’s so much more wisdom there that I could tap into that I’m not.
So thank you for that.
Michael: I think that’s true with, with the dogs and other relationships in our lives, we were just not open all the time. And I don’t mean 24 hours a day, but we, I think we miss a lot because we get caught in our own thing. Maybe we’re uncomfortable about something. So we put up a little bit of a wall and we just can’t see that thing.
It’s right here. So, I mean, it’s fascinating. I’ve made a practice of going outside with Indigo almost all the time now. Sometimes I’ll just let her out to go pee, but like 3 30 in the morning, if she gets up with us, I go and stand outside with her. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, right? I may [00:09:00] have to gear up, but we go outside and we stand in the cold blowing snow.
Right. And that’s when I come inside, I’m like, Oh, that was great.
Gissele: And that’s what I really appreciated about your book is too, is, you have an appreciation for life, like an appreciation, even for the difficult things, the way that you were talking about when you were doing the shadow work. You know, you kind of related to digging and then you’re like, Oh, what treasures am I going to find?
And some people are like, well, we don’t want to find those treasures. sometimes that’s very difficult. So that’s one of the things that really struck me about the book, which was like even grief, you have an appreciation for grief and what it can teach you. How has gratitude helped you, kind of live a more fulfilling life?
Michael: man, what a great question. I. I wasn’t as able [00:10:00] to feel or show gratitude until I dug into some of these things. So those treasures are things that we buried, right? We, we put them there and then cover them up with something. And then we put something else on top. We covered that up. If you’re willing to start to uncover some of those things, you realize that, you know, okay, the only person who’s really judging me in life is probably myself.
Why was I so afraid to experience this? It was painful at the time, but what can I learn from it? And how can that help me be even a better person now? And where can I go from there? Right? So we’re so full of potential possibility, but we keep ourselves sheltered and hidden in place. So once I started to uncover some of these things, I was like, Oh my gosh.
Okay. Yeah, that kind of sucks, but let’s, let’s take care of this thing, right? Let’s, let’s give it some love, show some [00:11:00] compassion. And I was able to increase my ability to experience gratitude.
Gissele: And what you say it’s about perspective, because I think that was one of the things that, I thought was really important about your book, which was you were willing to go there and willing to see that there was a gift there, whereas people avoided because they think, oh, it’s going to be painful.
It’s something I just want to forget. Whereas you’re willing to open up and say, where’s the gift in this moment. Yeah. I wanted, since you mentioned compassion, I wanted to ask how compassion has helped you be, be more loving towards yourself and other people.
Michael: fascinating. It’s fascinating. Some people talk about showing yourself more compassion, but maybe I don’t know how to do that.
So, can I show more compassion to another? Go. Oh, [00:12:00] okay. I understand how that feels going that direction. And then dogs are perfect for that. They’re constantly showing us compassion. They can just be there and hold space, right? They don’t have to be, Hey, I’m doing this thing for you. So I can show my dog more compassion and only a little understanding that I can’t speak their language.
They might be experiencing something when they’re upset. And that’s all that’s it, right? Just this tiny little thing. And that might create a small shift in me. Oh, so when I get uncomfortable, I can beat myself up or show myself some compassion, but it’s a practice. We don’t go from zero to a hundred or do 180 degree turn.
It’s a one degree shift. It’s this tiny little thing. And then you have to experience that, Oh, Oh, okay. I’m okay. I’m all right. Maybe I can go a little more next time.
Gissele: you emphasize the one degree shift and you give practices that can help people start to shift out of, [00:13:00] start to help them change themselves so that they can change their lives.
But not in a way that is, like you said, you’re going from zero to a hundred percent self compassion. You’re, you’re taking those baby steps to get people more and more comfortable with change. And as they get more comfortable with change, they can actually start to do the work to, to heal themselves.
Right. So I think that was really, really pivotal. You also talked about vulnerability and I think that’s a really important topic, especially for men. In a world where there has been historically some toxic masculinity, you talked about alpha males in what was considered Darwin’s theory on survival of the fittest.
Why is it so important for men in particular to talk about vulnerability?
Michael: Because that is death to us. All right. A lot of us are raised to be, you know, be strong and tough and be the one there no matter what, [00:14:00] whether it’s the breadwinner or, you know, you always show up for everybody. No matter what’s going on.
You put yourself second all the time. You make sure everyone’s handled and taken care of. I mean, it’s and it’s unmanageable and I mean, if you don’t believe me, just turn on the news. We take the take these things to extremes. We’re not taught, however, to go ahead and feel our feelings, right? I mean, we all have them and they’re there for a reason, but we’re, we’re taught to shut them down, push them aside.
Don’t cry. Don’t do this. Because if someone sees you in this vulnerable state, then you’re, you’re prone to attack. So, I mean, we’re fear mongered from the time we’re kids and it’s not an intentional thing from our parents necessarily, but maybe that’s how they were taught and their parents were taught and their parents were taught.
If you can’t be a little more vulnerable, you’re not going to experience that love in your life that you want because you’re not able to let it in, right? So maybe you get this tiny little [00:15:00] opening. And then, but you want, you want the whole thing. You see other people being happy and great relationships.
Well, you got to open that a little more and then a little more, but it goes back to that, you know, the 1 degree shift and the practice of allowing a tiny bit more. And you can practice that with your dog, right? Maybe not just a cuddle buddy, and the relationship’s not the same for everybody, but what else is possible?
What else is your dog trying to show you? Just get curious.
Gissele: And, you know, it’s so important that you mentioned not allowing love in. And that’s the thing about walls, right? They prevent us from getting hurt, but they also prevent. love from coming in as well. And so it’s understanding that we’re doing ourselves our disservice by preventing or narrowing what we feel to avoid hurt.
Michael: Well, we think it’s preventing the hurt. We’re still feeling the hurt. We just, I I got this
Gissele: because it’s self, because it’s self made, right? [00:16:00] It’s our thoughts and perceptions and feelings. It’s about what we think other people are thinking, what we, the memories that we have of whatever events, so we are the ones who are making ourselves suffer, which is why I thought it was really important in your book that you talk about choice
I think so many people feel they don’t have choice and that there’s that victim consciousness things happen to me. People are do things to me. But the really key aspect is that we always have choice and we’re always choosing. And we can also choose what we put our energy and attention on, whether it be something that we want to create something positive or to continue to believe we have no choice.
Yeah. So how has choice been instrumental in helping you change?
Michael: Well, you already hit it on the head. I didn’t actually realize because I was so stuck in my fear and anger and grief that I had a [00:17:00] choice. And when I was able to obtain a different perspective and realize that I’m always choosing anyway, I just may be choosing what’s not benefiting me.
That was, that was a mind blower for me. There’s a native Native American story about an elder talking to a younger man about two wolves. And so the elder says, we all have two wolves right and I might, I’ll probably say it wrong but, and you have love and you have fear. And, well, which one is the strongest?
And he says, whichever one you feed. So that is our choice. Do I, do I want to continue to do I want to be unhappy? Do I want to be upset? Do I want to be angry all the time? Do I want to be rageful? Right? Do I want to be fearful? Do I want to be scared and hide all the time? Or do I want to don’t want to try one little thing?
Do I want to try two little things? Do I want to [00:18:00] step a little further outside my box? Do I want to be happy? Do I want to experience joy? It’s all connected. Like if you could picture a line or we’ve got, you know, bliss over here and just a dismal failure dismay and death on this side, they’re just part of the same line.
It’s just where would you rather be on this line? Now, you can’t go from, from abysmal death and failure of life to bliss overnight, but you can start to move down that line. But that’s your choice.
Gissele: Yeah, absolutely. It is your choice. And I think that’s helping people understand that they have choice is really critical.
And that in that there is no matter what they do, they always have choice. And I do agree with what you say in the book, which is like, we create our reality. We create everything that happens to us, you know, with our thoughts and our perceptions. That doesn’t mean, [00:19:00] cause I think people misunderstand this.
People then think, oh, that’s my fault. We don’t consciously do it. It’s subconscious, but it is our responsibility to do better for ourselves. It is our responsibility to, once we have that awareness to heal ourselves, because, you know, as much as each of us support different people, you can’t heal anybody.
They have to choose to do the work, to show up, to listen to their dog, to follow their gut instincts and to do all they have to take the steps. So ultimately it is about choice. I wanted to go back to your comment on anger because you talk about anger in the book, which I’m so grateful about. It’s interesting to me how anger seems to be the only acceptable emotion for men instead of, cause anger often hides other emotions like sadness and grief and so on.
Has your relationship with anger [00:20:00] changed since you wrote that book?
Michael: It has. Yeah, so so many things underlie what shows up as anger for us, and it could actually just be anger, right? You’re, you’re, you’re frustrated and enraged about something, you know, you witnessed or something that happened to you.
And oh, and that’s okay, but a lot of times it’s sadness, depression, loneliness, grief, but we’re not aware of how those feelings actually impact us. So they show up as anger. It’s so funny because in our society and others as well, we talk about how anger is such a problem, but then we actually create that and continue this problem by, by allowing people to just.
Only show anger, you know, and, and more so men, like women are, women are berated for getting angry. It’s like, what? Why? [00:21:00] That doesn’t make any sense. So, but it’s fascinating. My relationship with anger back to your question was, has changed immensely. I still get angry. But I know what’s underneath it, right?
I’ll go, I can still react and get upset. I’ll go, Oh, oh, really? You know, that’s Oh, geez. Okay. All right. Yeah, we’re gonna follow that one away. That’s that’s something I need to work on or man. Yeah, that’s okay. We can we can discharge this and get on with our day.
Gissele: I like Dr. Joe Dispenza’s perspective on this.
He says it’s not that you don’t react. It’s how long you react. Yeah,
Michael: stay stuck in that story.
Gissele: Yeah. Like how long are you going to stay there? Right? Like, it’s not that you are going to completely shift yourself. You might still be reacting, but how long are you choosing to stay in the story? How long are you choosing to stay in that victim consciousness?
And one [00:22:00] of the choices I would say that you talk about is slowing down. And I wanted to read this part of the book cause I really found it. And I think it was the one that helped me, ah, really go remember to savor. And the book you said, you know, you’re talking about slowing down and it’s, I started to feel connected to everything in a completely different way.
I became the bear, the wolf. I was the cloud in the wind. I could go anywhere and be anything. And for me, that was so powerful because. As you said earlier, we’re often limited by our limited thinking. We think, Oh, when I go on vacation, then I’ll be able to be by the ocean when I do this and I’ll be able to do that.
But when we allow our consciousness to expand and we allow ourselves to be as we truly are, we could be with the ocean, with the sky, with every, every aspect of it. And then we understand how interconnected everything is and it helps us [00:23:00] feel not so alone. And so. What helped you really connect with that or, or really gain that understanding?
Michael: When I was able to spend time with Darby more so outside and just witnessed how he interacted with other animals, you know, plants, trees, water. He just seemed grounded, like always grounded. And I was like, Oh man, I really want that. I want to feel. Just comfortable in, in my skin all the time. So what is that?
How come it doesn’t matter where we were. He could just, Oh, I want, I want to find peace in every moment. And that’s where that came from. But how do I do that? If I’m, if I’m feeling disconnected from something, I’m not peaceful with it. And I’m not peaceful with myself. So I, you know, began my practices and [00:24:00] sometimes I meditate.
I do self hypnosis just guided imagery. And you’ve already brought this up. If I close my eyes. I can be at my favorite beach in San Diego like that. I can almost smell the ocean. I can hear the gulls and the waves and see the clouds rolling in. That’s what we are so powerful. We create all the time as we’ve talked about.
So what would you rather create? Do you want to find that peace in that moment? You can do this at work. Right. You’re feeling frustrated. You’re pissed off sitting in your cubicle. Your boss just went, you know, close your eyes for a second, put yourself back on that beach and be like, okay, you can do it in seconds.
Gissele: It just reminded me of my happy place, like going to my happy place. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, I feel it’s so important, right?
you have this quote in your book called it’s [00:25:00] Which is, each head has a, has a world within it, obviously, because it’s true, each of us is sort of a universe unto ourselves, right? Does this saying have any personal meaning to you? Why did you choose to put it in the book?
Michael: time I heard it, or read it, actually, I was like, what? That doesn’t make any sense, right? I, I couldn’t grasp that. So, I, I had to spend a lot of time with that, until I realized. Okay, so I have my own thoughts, perceptions the way my feelings show up, the way I express myself, the way I put my socks on, right?
Everything I do is, is maybe a tiny bit different to me. We all do similar activities. We, most of us worry about the same things, but in, in our own version of that, and I was like, wow. So you know, how do I see I can look at something and see maybe something completely different than what my friend is looking [00:26:00] at, even though we’re looking at the same object or, or situation.
And I just thought that was amazing and fascinating. What that allowed me to do was give myself a break. I was like, Oh, I don’t have to get it. We punish ourselves for not seeing other people’s perspectives or not understanding. And then we’re afraid to try to because we think maybe we, you know, we’re insecure about missing it up or being wrong or whatever that is.
And yeah, every head is a world, right? Every head is a world. I mean, you could take this, what you see and what I see are two different things, but it’s the same thing.
Gissele: And I think so understanding that also helped me realize that people’s experiences of, I guess what I would quote the same circumstances can differ, right, because it depends on really where they have their perception.
And so it is possible for people to walk [00:27:00] away with two different experiences, and we don’t need to negate one person’s experiences over the other we just need to understand it. And so I think that’s where. This current cancel culture is really doing us a disservice because then we don’t get to listen to each other and hear each other’s stories and come closer together and lean in rather than what we’re doing, which is like, I have to be right.
This is my perspective is the right one in therefore canceled. And so, but I do think this will change. I think we’re just in a pendulum swing. Before we didn’t believe the victims. Now we don’t right now. We don’t believe the oppressors and now hopefully eventually will sit in the middle where we can actually lean into one another and listen to each other.
Yeah, I hope at
Michael: least. Yeah. And you brought up like 10 great points right there. In this culture, we have to be right. And you know, I think that goes way back [00:28:00] to as a child underneath all of this sense of not feeling worthy or, or not feeling like you’re enough somehow. And if I feel right, if I feel justified that I feel strong, I feel good about myself.
And that’s really unfortunate because we’re still allowing our, our 5 year old selves run how we show up during the day. And again, it’s, it’s not a criticism people because I’ve been there. And sometimes, you know, my 3 year old will still show up and throw a little tantrum. So I have to be able to hold that and be and deal with that.
Gissele: Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. Like the perspective on being right. I often wonder if, if that perspective has to do with our need to belong, like if I’m not right, then therefore maybe I’m not valuable and therefore I don’t belong. And so I wondered if, maybe that had something to do with it. I don’t really know.
Michael: Yeah. Well, it makes sense to me.
Gissele: Yeah. [00:29:00] I will say that one of the things that we talk about in our family is the relationship has to be more important than being right. But sometimes we forget that cause you’re right.
Like this is kind of a journey, a journey. That we, we have to choose every day to be compassionate and loving. We have to choose every day to make choices that are positive for us and that focus on our dreams rather than, all the negative things. You mentioned the like self worth, how important has loving yourself and appreciating yourself been in your journey?
Michael: absolutely massive. So I think underneath everything is a desire to feel safe and desire to feel loved. If we can’t get that from ourselves, then obviously we, we try and get that from other people. And that’s how we have so many problems in every relationship. Because in some fashion, we’re not feeling safe.
We’re not feeling loved. [00:30:00] Right? And that goes to acceptance and all these things. But once I started to realize that I can’t put keep putting all my emotional needs on everybody else’s shoulders. I’m like, Oh, I, I can, I can do this for myself. And I didn’t even know, I didn’t know that I could or needed to.
And that was something else that my dog showed me. They didn’t have to be doing all these things or telling me how great I am or how handsome I look. No, I didn’t, they didn’t do all that. They could just be there and love me. And I was like, Oh, this is possible. I don’t have to do anything. So that helped me learn to start to give myself a little more, feed myself a little more, feed that one wolf that I wanted to be.
Gissele: And I think this goes to show the power of presence, right? Dogs aren’t, like you said, actively saying, I love you, I want to be there. And we continually seek things outside of ourselves, but that never fills the hole. Because if [00:31:00] somebody doesn’t give us that love, then we’ll feel unloved, right? And so I think that was one of the things that I have experienced with my dog.
This is my first dog ever. And it’s that unconditional love. It’s that, that willingness to just be present with you and always excited to see you no matter what. How would you define unconditional love? I think
Michael: that is such a large question. As humans, we’re full of nothing. We’re full of nothing but conditions and expectations, right?
So it’s, for me, it’s total acceptance of themselves and the other. They don’t, they’re not putting themselves down because, you know, they’re getting too many treats and they’re putting on pounds. They’re not, they’re not making fun of us or judging us because we got a big belly [00:32:00] or no hair or, you know, what kind of car do you drive?
What kind of house do you live in and how much money do you have? None of that matters. Literally none of that. So everything can be removed. I can just be here and
Gissele: love you. It’s that total acceptance. And it goes to what you were saying about surrender, right? Surrender is such a powerful, beautiful thing.
I find, you know, a lot of people focus on manifesting things, right? For me, the greatest thing has been total incomplete surrender. It has been letting go of what I think should happen, letting go of things and just being in the moment. But surrender can feel difficult for people. It can feel challenging.
And this was actually a lesson I had to learn myself because I was so used to. Controlling things so used to knowing where, how things were going to happen knowing where my direction was next. And so surrendering has been the thing that I have done, which has probably impacted me the [00:33:00] most, but at times I found the most challenging.
What has been your experience with surrender? For
Michael: me, surrender was that was one of the most difficult things. I thought if I could control everything, then I’d feel safe, right? And I’d be able to find love because I can control this. I can make this happen. I had read a story about, I think it was Michael Jordan?
And about entering a flow state and how they actually get to a place where they let go of trying to control everything. And just enter this other place. I was like, well, what is that? What is that? So I started looking into it. I read a book by Coot Blackson. He’s an, he’s an amazing guy. The Power of Surrender.
Yes. I was like, Oh, wow. So I, I actively worked on surrendering [00:34:00] things that I was trying to hold so tightly onto and it was amazing, right? I could go from, go from this tension to this. To flow and like, oh, my gosh, that feels so much better. It was and I’m still doing it. Right? I haven’t, I haven’t achieved status, but it’s fantastic.
And we, but we think we’re doing better because we can, we think we can control everything. And we’re, we’re spinning our wheels and wasting so much time and energy on it.
Gissele: One of the things I had to learn on this journey, which kind of shook me like one of the questions you ask in your book is who am I, right?
So as I started going to this surrender place, I even surrendered the concept of time, right? Like, so then you start to live from that flow state, which means you’re constantly just living from following your passion. Then I got to a point where I was like, the things I was being guided to do didn’t make sense in my head from a logical perspective.
I should be doing [00:35:00] this for my business. I should be doing that for my business. Right. And there were days where we, like, I didn’t know what day it was. They’re like, I’m like, is it Wednesday? And there’ll be, we’re like, no, it’s Friday. I’m like, what? I and it, it kind of got to a place where I was like.
Who am I? Like, and who do I want to be in this world that has like kind of this structure? And as I’m living from this flow state and following my highest excitement, I’m feeling really uncomfortable. I’m feeling like I don’t fit with what’s happening.I’ve been there where you’re totally in the flow state, but then people, things remind you that you are.
In a box, so to speak, right? With respect to time and things you have to do and all of these things, and surrendering to life and allowing life to flow through you, if you’re not used to it, can feel really uncomfortable. It can feel really challenging.
have you had those experiences where you’re like, Oh my gosh, like surrendering just feels [00:36:00] so overwhelming because it, I guess it doesn’t feel safe because we’re not used to doing it.
I don’t know. Well,
Michael: we would rather be uncomfortable in this other way because it’s familiar, right? Right. So. Well, we’re uncomfortable to begin with. Why don’t you be uncomfortable in this other way? And see how that feels instead. What, what can come from being able to be uncomfortable? Instead of just being uncomfortable.
Yeah. It’s, it’s maddening what we do to ourselves.
Gissele: Yeah, but it’s, but it’s very similar to living the life of dogs, right? Like they don’t worry. Now, granted, they’re taken care of by us. And, you know, if we think about it in a larger sense, we are, if we allow ourselves to be taken care of by the universe, right?
So if we just allow ourselves to be not worrying about where our next meal is coming, like all of those things, if we allow ourselves to really find as much joy as possible, we could. [00:37:00] Actually live magical and fantastic lives, right? If we allowed ourselves to do that.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah. Spend, if you can, spend an hour maybe with your dog, like just follow them around.
Right? And then try it if you can take a whole day and do that. And just, they go and lay down, go and lay down or just sit. If they go to look, get up to go check out something, go check out the something. Sometimes I have
Gissele: no idea what my dog’s checking out. Don’t you ever find that your dog just barks and barks and I’m like thinking, I’m looking out there and I’m like, I can’t see what you’re seeing.
What are you seeing? There’s barking. Yeah.
Michael: Well, imagine their, their noses are, you know, at least a thousand times stronger than ours. Right. Their olfactory sense is off the charts. I would never be able to sleep like, man, I still stink. Yeah. I just showered. Whatever it is. And there, a lot of them don’t have as good a sight, but their hearing is at least four times better than ours.
So I mean, [00:38:00] all that input, well, they can hear stuff and smell stuff that I can’t even imagine from how far off it is. So but I’ll do that. I’ll actually, I’ll sit on the ground at the same height where she is standing and just like, what? I don’t, what is it?
Gissele: Me too. I’ll look around and I’m like, I can’t see anything.
Michael: and pick up on that. And I mean, and these are exercises I give guys to do, like just stare out the window with your dog. Just. Put your phone down, turn off the music, turn off the TV, whatever, and just go stare with your dog. And just be curious. Maybe there’s a squirrel that you couldn’t pick up on, you know?
Gissele: Yeah. And curiosity is such an important part of compassion too, right? Like because as we get curious about one another, we stop judging. And in your book, you talk a lot about judgment, about some of the expectations we have and expectations can lead us to suffer. Right, would you say that your relationship with expectations has changed since you began this journey?
Michael: Yeah, it has lessened. I still have them. I still, I’m still really good at beating myself up. If I think I didn’t do something well, or, if I feel I didn’t help somebody enough, I can still give myself a nice little kick in the, in the, you know, what? But it’s lessened quite a bit. And I, I realized that.
If I’m doing all these things right now, these expectations of others and myself, well, so is that person, and so is that person, and so is that person, so it allows me to have a little more compassion for where they’re at, and that they may not get me, they may not understand me, maybe this doesn’t work for them so what do they need?
I don’t know. So, and that, that brings me back to curiosity. Because we really don’t know what we don’t know. We have no idea what’s going on for that other person in their world, you know, when they go home, that door closes, we have no idea what’s going on in there. We just know that when they’re in [00:40:00] front of us, they act a certain way and then we take it personally.
Well, it’s, it’s almost never actually about us. Right. That’s just, that’s their hurt spilling out.
Gissele: Yeah, agreed. One of the things though that I had learned in my life is that, even though it may not be about me, if I’m reacting to it, then it’s about me. So it’s, it’s my reaction really is the barometer about whether or not, if I don’t react, I’m like, Oh, it’s about them.
Like you said in your book, right? Like it’s hurt people, hurt people and you know, people that feel like they’re victims, they hurt others. Cool. Like, it’s not about me, but when I get triggered by something, somebody says or does, I’m like, Oh shoot, this is about me. Oh
Michael: crap. Well, we make it about us, right?
So like. You know, my neighbor doesn’t get up in the morning and say, all right, today, I’m going to be a real jerk to Mike. I’m going to tell him he’s this, this, and then, you know, so whatever happened or whatever [00:41:00] reason they’re showing up this way is theirs. Now, I need to take responsibility for my response or reaction to
And that I think, like you said, goes back to choice. What choices am I going to make? And that it has been in my journey as well. Like, you know, in, in my desire to be more loving and compassionate, my desire to understand what choices I have to make every day. And some days I don’t always get it right. And then I’m like, okay, what I’m, what choice am I going to make in the next moment?
Understanding full well that. The world I helped co create is my responsibility, right? The reason why we have all of these things in the world that are happening is because of choices we make. And so for me, I’m going to choose the most loving and compassionate choices or hope that I do. And when I mess up, I’m going to start over.
So that’s where. You know, surrendering, accepting, allowing [00:42:00] and making those one degree shifts as you suggest. I really also love very much that you included opportunities to go out with your dog for a walk.
A lot of people just want to read the book and go on, but the opportunity to stop, pause and reflect and look at these experiences differently, I think is really quite key. So thank you for that. Oh, you bet.
Michael: I want to touch on something real quick that you just brought up is starting over. So, here on this planet, we go to bed and we get up the next day, we have a chance every single day to start over.
And again, it doesn’t mean you do this massive thing. But maybe just this tiny thing, and it goes back to being, who am I being, who do I want to be today? I mean, none of us are going to probably get to, like, Gandhi or Mother Teresa status, and that’s okay, maybe some of you might. But we don’t have to, [00:43:00] I don’t want to be a Gandhi, I don’t want to be Mother Teresa, but can I be a little more like that, a little more loving and compassionate, no matter what?
Gissele: can do that. And I think that was one of the things where, again, I go back to that one degree shift, because in one part of the book you talked about, like, when people are ready to change, and this has been my experience, when you are ready to change, your world completely changes. Like everything in your life changes in if you’re going from a place where you want to change and you haven’t yet made that choice.
It can feel scary to think that, you know, real relationships are going to change people. Some people are going to flow out of your life. New people are going to flow in out of your life. Everything might just completely, come apart so that it can come together. But if we can start to get comfortable with change, then we can start to take baby steps.
And then by the time you get to 50 steps [00:44:00] or a hundred steps, you will have made. 100 percent change. I think that was really, really powerful. So we’re coming to the end of the podcast. I was wondering if you could share with people where they can find you, where they can come work with you, where they can find the book, a little bit about more about you and about the work that you’re doing.
Michael: Oh, thank you. So I can be directly reached if someone just wants to email and ask a question at Michael at dogs and men. com. Www. dogsandmen. com goes to a link with a lot of resources my books in PDF form a lot of other shows I’ve been on, podcasts and radio shows. I’m creating an app, as we mentioned, so that’ll be app.
dogsandmen. com when that gets released. I’m really excited about that. The [00:45:00] work I do continues, right? So it’s not just me out there trying to help other people. I’m, I’m still on my journey and I’m still finding my way back to my path. And I’ve just been able to work with so many amazing men. I mean, from a special forces, retired sniper to an ice cream, an ice cream manufacturer, you know what I mean?
Just these other coaches. It’s just fantastic. The retreats that I, that I have going are just phenomenal. But this is, this is not easy work. This is not light work and it’s not for the faint of heart. So that’s why I wanted to create other resources for people to start to be able to get into this. My book is on Amazon also.
I’m working on two other books. I co authored another one, so I’m constantly creating because I’m finding more of me in that creation. I’m able to open and release more of those aspects. So yeah, phenomenal [00:46:00] journey.
Gissele: Yeah, amazing. Can you tell us a little bit more about the app before we go?
Michael: Yeah. So as you, you introduced it earlier was for guys to kick the tires or dip their toes in the water.
So there’s going to be. Initially for the entry level, free level, a lot of resources and some meditations or canine contemplations for you to do with your dog. 10 minute hits of, of like, what, really? Yeah, and then there’ll be a membership level with coaching available and other resources as well.
You know, I wanted, I just wanted people to wherever, if, if it resonates with them, be able to pick it up and go, oh, no kidding. I had no idea. So I want to spark curiosity. Right? That’s all I want to do is plant this little seed for folks. If it grows great, if not great, right? Maybe that’s not for them.
But if you can be a tiny [00:47:00] bit curious, as we’ve talked about a number of times in the show, that opens up everything, right? It gets you out of your, your stuckness and be like, my, my, yeah, your dog too. Just look at your dog right now. Yes. And that dog right there is trying to show you more.
Gissele: Definitely. Well, it it’s definitely going to enrich or has enriched my relationship with my dog for sure.
I have a lot more appreciation for the lessons
Thank you so much, Michael, for being on the show. Really appreciate it. Please go out and read let your dog lead, a beautiful, beautiful book on how to live a more fulfilling life. And please join us for another episode of the loving compassion podcast with me.
Michael: Thank you so much, everyone. Thanks Giselle.
Gissele: Thank you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.